CARERS SUPPORTING MOBILITY TRANSITIONS OF DRIVERS WITH COGNITIVE DECLINE: ROAD SAFETY IMPLICATIONS
A range of factors may impact upon an individual’s ability to maintain driving independence and manage mobility transitions. Of particular concern are cognitive changes which reduce a driver’s competence and risk perception, predisposing them to greater road safety risk. Such issues become increasingly important in an ageing population. Carers are known to raise concerns with such individuals but little Australian research has been completed to understand how these transitions are managed. This study investigated carers’ experiences and gathered information about events and signs which triggered responses.
Purposive sampling was used to recruit 30 participants through disability support groups and personal networks. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were used to collect details regarding carer experiences, strategies implemented and resources utilised. Quantitative and qualitative data analysis techniques were applied.
Findings highlighted the variability of health-related and road safety ‘signs’, which accompanied a decline in driving abilities. Memory difficulties, inadequate driver performance including minor traffic events and low driver insight were consistent themes. Carers were concerned for the driver and the public and applied a broad range of strategies to limit driving whilst supporting mobility independence. Carers often revealed poor knowledge of available licensing authority medical review procedures, assessments and resources.
Study findings highlight the need for licensing authorities and agencies supporting road safety to review the content, dissemination and access to, driving related resource information relevant to this ‘at risk’ driver group and their carers. Recommendations to address these issues will be discussed. Further data collection from a larger carer sample is under way.